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To protect our privacy, make the FISA court act like a real court

The expiration of key surveillance authorities this spring will force Congress to grapple with the sprawling spying activities exposed by Edward Snowden. Defenders of the status quo sound a familiar refrain: The National Security Agency’s programs are lawful and already subject to robust oversight. After all, they have been blessed not just by Congress but by the judges of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, or FISA court.

Annie Cubberly — Money spent on kids now saves us a bundle later

The Grays Harbor Early Learning Coalition applauds the Washington State Legislature for its strong bipartisan effort to pass the Early Start Act. Now, as we launch into the state budget process, we encourage the Legislature to fully fund the bill and affirm our state’s commitment to high-quality early learning programs that create long-term, positive outcomes for our children.

Anne Steckel — Without immediate renewable fuels standard, biodiesel industry faces uncertain future

The large-scale production of domestic biodiesel should be something President Barack Obama strongly supports, due to his commitment to slowing the pace of climate change and reducing our dependence on fossil fuels. After all, the Environmental Protection Agency has certified that biodiesel can cut greenhouse gas emissions by almost 90 percent when compared to diesel made from petroleum.

Let’s debate the Trans-Pacific Partnership before OKing it

This spring, President Barack Obama and Republican leaders in Congress want to use an outdated process used to pass the North American Free Trade Agreement more than 20 years ago — a rule called “fast track” — to force through trade deals without a real debate or any amendments. And fast track would be used to speed passage of the giant Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, trade deal.

Governor’s carbon bill good for environment and business

In Olympia, people speak of “two Washingtons”: the prosperous cities of Puget Sound, home to numerous globally recognized companies, and the rural communities where job recovery is slower and economic development lags behind national averages. Washington needs bold efforts to spur job growth and innovation across all of our communities.

Paul Noe — Governor’s carbon bill would make mills less competitive

Recent news from coastal Washington and the Olympic Peninsula has provided a glimpse into the future of a paper and wood products industry that plays a critical role in the region’s economy. Investments in local facilities are helping them compete in the new efficient manufacturing, carbon neutral energy economy. The question is whether state policies collectively are going to help or hinder that competitiveness.

County facing rising costs, shrinking revenue

The time has come to meet Grays Harbor County’s fiscal problems head on. Your three county commissioners are tasked each year with writing and funding an annual budget, which results in an itemized list of revenue sources (expected income) and expenditures (expected costs) that appear in its General Fund Budget.